10 Teacher Gifts Under $10 That They’ll Really Appreciate! Written by a Teacher

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A bulletin board covered in colorful sticky notes, washi tape, and thumbtacks.Teaching is a wonderful job but also extremely difficult. Typically, we only hear about everything we are doing wrong. So, when teacher appreciation week rolls around, we really do appreciate acknowledgement for doing a good job.

Appreciation doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, the two best gifts I have received are a handmade card from a student and a heartfelt e-mail of gratitude from a parent. Another awesome gift would be contacting your representatives to let them know that you think schools and education are the future of our country, and, as such, should be well-funded and teachers well-paid, so that we don’t need things like appreciation week. But, that’s for another article.

For now, let’s focus on gifts that acknowledge the great job us teachers are doing, plus extra unique gifts and gifts to avoid at all costs.

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10 Teacher-Approved Gifts Under $10

1. Cards :: This is nearly free and, by far, the easiest appreciation gift. Most of the teachers I know have a stack of letters from students and parents that we look back on, especially during hard days at work. Download and print this free thank you note with fill-in-the-blank lines that you and your student can customize. A handmade card with one thing you’ve appreciated or noticed about the year is a meaningful and free gift.

2. Dry erase mrkers and the “good” pencils :: All teachers use dry erase markers and pencils. And let me tell you, brand really does matter. The decorative pencils, cute as they are, just don’t work, sharpen well, or last as long as the classic ones. Any extras you can snag will definitely be used and appreciated.

3. Fun school supplies :: Teachers enjoy colorful sticky notes, erasers, thumbtacks, and other cute school supplies. When I go to the office supply section of the store, I always check for clearance items like these that I can use in my own classroom and as teacher gifts.

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4. Gift cards :: Gift cards to grocery, craft, or office supply stores are always a hit and make for an affordable group gift, too. Collect five-dollar gift cards from parents, and display them like flowers in a vase.

5. Books :: Buy a copy of you or your child’s favorite book for the classroom and sign it! Even if it’s a popular title, extras are great to have around. (Please make sure it’s grade-level and age-appropriate.)

Elementary students give their teacher a book of thank you notes for teacher appreciation week

6. Pens and markers :: We use a lot of pens and markers. Flair pens, highlighters, and Sharpies are always appreciated. Tip: Buy a bulk pack at a discount, and split them up between teachers.

7. Personalization :: Make your teacher a sheet of vinyl stickers or iron-ons in different sizes of his or her name. I, for one, would love to receive a sheet of those that I didn’t have to make, prep, or pay for myself.

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8. Plants :: Flowers are fantastic, but fake plants keep in any corner of the classroom. They brighten up the space and last for a long time. Throw in a cheesy note like “Thanks for helping me grow” taped on a popsicle stick and stuck in the faux dirt for good measure. A hearty succulent works, too.

9. Snacks :: Pre-packaged snacks (that we’re not allergic to) are a teacher’s bread and butter. They get us through the really hard days. Last week, a kiddo tripped and spilled her lunch. This resulted in an injury followed up by a parent call. Consequently, I missed my lunch time altogether, and scavenged for snacks the rest of the day. Ask what your teacher likes, and refill the snack cubby — this is a really great gift.

10. Sweet treats :: It doesn’t have to be an edible bouquet. A small bag of chocolate (or favorite candy) will be very appreciated.

A pre-k student gifts her teacher a handmade box decorated with stickers for teacher appreciation week5 Unique Teacher Gifts Under $10

1. A book of student drawings or reflections :: If you are the room mom or a regular volunteer who could coordinate this, a compilation of the students’ memories is a sweet surprise for the teacher!

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2. Box or binder for notes of encouragement :: After all these years collecting notes and keepsakes, I still haven’t organized them. They are spilling out of old notebooks and envelopes. A decorated box or binder for encouraging notes (starting with one from your student!) is a gift that will be treasured.

3. Expandable plastic vase :: There are few occasions teachers receive flowers, but, when we do, we have nowhere to keep them. Vases are too bulky and fragile to store in classrooms, but these expandable plastic vases store flat and can be used multiple times.

4. Handmade gifts :: One of my favorite teacher gifts was a candle holder with “Thanks for lighting my way,” written on it in Sharpie. Another favorite was a sculpture made out of a soda can. Handmade gifts are unforgettable.

5. “Rough Day” survival kits :: Here are some ideas to include: A detergent pen for removing stains, lip balm, mints or gum, pain reliever, tissues, hand sanitizer, encouraging stickers, white out, and wet wipes.

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5 Gifts to Avoid

1. Cheap school supplies :: Crazy Art is just not the same as Crayola. While I utilize Dollar Tree for my classroom all the time, its school supplies are low quality and do not last. The supplies don’t have to be expensive, though! A couple of Sharpies, pens, or name-brand pencils are helpful, useful, and affordable.

2. Lotions or cheap body care products :: Unless you have a sheet with preferences, avoid these. There are so many allergies that you might not know about, so it’s a safe bet to skip all body care products.

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3. Mugs :: My mother-in-law has been a teacher for years. She doesn’t drink coffee or tea, yet she receives at least two mugs every year. Listen, teachers have plenty of mugs. So, before you reach for the coffee cups, check out the list of teacher gifts under $10 above!

4. Scratch off’s and lottery tickets :: These are fun, but I’d rather get cash or a gift card. This isn’t just my preference — search “teacher gifts” on reddit, and you’ll see the same message again and again.

5. Wine or coffee :: Alcohol and school are a dicey combination and not always a welcome joke. Nor does it set a good example. Unless you have a list of preferences, avoid coffee and alcohol.

If you’re a teacher, tell us what your favorite appreciation gifts have been! If you’re a gift giver, tell us what you plan on gifting this year in the comments.

Sarah Spencer
Sarah was raised in Plano, took a detour in Oklahoma for college, and now lives in McKinney. She's a teacher and mom who believes that 10 three year olds are easier to handle than one. Sarah and her husband, Nathaniel, are foster and adoptive parents and advocates. Big fans of deep conversations, they run a blog that helps parents connect with their kids over entertainment. She likes to try DIY projects that are way over her head and experiment with different teas and chocolates while binge-watching great series. Follow Sarah at Down the Hobbit Hole Blog and follow on Facebook or Instagram for her movie and book guides for parents.


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